Paul Foley: Non-League football has lost a true servant

Friday 10th April 2020

TRIBUTES have been made for Paul Foley, who has sadly lost his life this morning, aged 48.


Defender Foley was diagnosed with a brain stem cell tumour in September 2012.  He had six weeks of intensive radiotherapy, followed by two full courses of chemotherapy. 

Sadly, his condition later deteriorated to the point of severely limited mobility.

A benefit match took place for him in June 2018 between two of his former clubs Maidstone United and Ramsgate.

Paul Bowden-Brown, who was the chairman of Maidstone United at the time when centre-half Foley played for the club in the Kent League, said: “I have just received a phone call from my old friend Jim Ward, who like myself is enforced isolation and both missing our great game of football.

“Jim gave me the sad news that my celebrated captain of Maidstone United, our Kent League and Cup double-winning teams in 2001-02, Paul Foley has sadly died after a long illness.

“Paul was a great leader, not only on the pitch but in the dressing room and throughout the Club and whatever he said or decided you agreed with him if you wanted a quiet life. 

“Whilst chairman at Maidstone United FC I had on occasion through sheer frustration at times during matches when we were not doing that well, I made my own feeling known quite loudly at all times and Paul in his role as captain always responded directly his own feelings at me.

“He did not care who I was during a match but off the field we both had great respect for each other and had many a long drinking session with him and his fellow players who all respected Paul to a man.

“I was disappointed that I could not join Paul and Jim Ward and others when a benefit match was held for Paul where a team from Ramsgate played a team from Maidstone.

“But as everyone knows in local football I am banned for life from attending matches at the Gallagher Stadium, so I could only pass on my best personal wishes through my old friend Mal Watkins, not only to Paul but to all the other players that had been involved in the early history of Maidstone United and our climb up the Non-League Pyramid.

“As far as I am concerned Paul Foley will always be part that great history and Non-League football has lost a true servant in Paul, and I send my sincere personal condolences to Paul’s family.”

Jim Ward, who managed Maidstone United and Ramsgate, added: “I was a very fortunate manager to have Paul Foley in my team at Ramsgate and then also with Maidstone. He was a consummate professional.

“That double-winning team of Maidstone’s was the start of the club going places.  I know there was a lot that went before and also a lot that happened afterwards but we really set the seal and Paul was a major contributor in all that.

Tim Dixon, who played alongside Foley at Ramsgate, said: “It pains me to say that my old team-mate Paul Foley passed away this morning. He had been suffering a long time with a brain tumour. RIP Foes.”

Ramsgate striker Dean Bowey said: "A true warrior on and off the pitch, hard as nails, lucky to play with him in the Ramsgate double-winning side.  A pal you'd want in the trenches on and off the pitch, always had your back, intellgent, funny as you like, top lad."

A VCD Athletic statement said: “Everyone at VCD are saddened to hear the passing of our former manager and player Paul Foley this morning. Our hearts go out to his family at this sad time.  RIP Foles.”

Dean Frost, who was at VCD Athletic at the time, added: "We loved, lived, had fun, bantered, debated, argued and disagreed - but never fell out.  One of the old school. A leader and friend.  Thoughts with Chloe and all the family. RIP Foes."

Ricky Bennett, a striker, remembers his time with Foley while they were together at Oakwood.

"On the pitch, I remember my pal Foes as being clever, tough and uncompromising but above all a leader and a winner, who when on opposing sides would take great pleasure in going through the back of me at every opportunity, mates or no mates!

"We'd still have a booze and a laugh afterwards though, that was the winner in him.

"When we managed VCD's under 15s on a Sunday morning together, back then, I've got to be honest, I couldn't see him being the successful manager of the first-team that he became - that was the leader in him.

"Off the pitch, it's well known how funny and mischievous he was but he was also so clever and helpful too and generally an all-round old school good egg.

"My love and condolences are with Chloe, the girls, Theo and Sheila, Shoe Horn and the rest of the family at this sad time.

"See you at the far post Foes, you're going to be missed mate. RIP."

Former team-mate Kevin Watson, now manager at Cray Valley, added: “RIP Foes, unique, charismatic, intelligent guy. That night in Vegas will always make me smile and wince at the same time.  Will be sorely missed by all. Condolences to his fantastic family.”

Cray Wanderers chairman Gary Hillman added: “Saddened to hear the passing of Paul Foley after a long illness.  The winning captain, a real winner and character – love to all the family from all at Cray Wanderers Football Club.”

Joe Francis, who was Cray Wanderers’ assistant manager under Ian Jenkins, added: “So sad to hear of the passing of my old mate Paul Foley after his battle against a brain tumour.  Many happy and tough battles both with and against him.  Sending love to his family.”

Marc Seager, who won The FA Vase while with Deal Town as a player in 2000, said: "Absolutely gutted to hear the sad news that Paul Foley has left us.  He was never a team-mate but was a very respected opponent, who I enjoyed many battles and plenty of banter with over the years.  He was so supportive of me with my fight with illness, something I will never forget."